According to the Oxford Dictionary, leadership is simply the act of leading a group of people. However, all good leaders know that leadership requires more than just barking orders. Good leaders motivate their teams, take risks and empower their employees to achieve excellence. And successful companies know that good leaders can make or break their success.
In the world of remote working, the need for strong leadership has only heightened. However, being a strong leader when you aren't in the same space (or country) as your employees can be a real challenge. That's why we want to take a closer look at remote leadership, including why It's important and what qualities strong remote leaders have in common. Then, we'll share some tips on how you can become a better remote leader.
Why leadership matters more now than ever
From communication and collaboration issues to isolationism and well-being concerns, working remotely has many challenges. As a leader, you're responsible for handling many of these problems for your employees.
In other words, on top of ensuring your team meets their KPIs, you now also have to account for all extra challenges like:
- Ensuring seamless communication across platforms and time zones
- Monitoring output and tracking performance virtually
- Inspiring results without constant supervision
- Cultivating connections so employees don't feel isolated
- Creating company loyalty
- Maintaining company culture and employee retention
- Ensure growth and advancement opportunities are clear so talent doesn't leave
And you have to do all that without being in the same space as your employees. So that's why it's more important than ever to prioritize strong remote leadership.
The 5 qualities of a skilled remote leader
So, what makes a good remote leader? Here are some of the top qualities strong remote leaders have.
1. Transparency in Communication and Expectations
A remote leader will be clear about setting expectations for their team and themselves. If everyone knows what's expected, they're much more likely to thrive. In addition, they'll take the time to understand their team's communication needs and provide tools and processes for ensuring communication is as frictionless as possible.
Transparency is also critical. Remote leaders know that the best way to get their team on board is to give them the necessary details. For example, if you require them to use new technology or show up to meetings – tell them why. Be transparent about motivations, and your employees will return the favor.
2. Empathy and Compassion
Remote leaders may have a more difficult time detecting the signs of mental illness, exhaustion, frustration and burnout due to physical distance from their workers. As a result, leading with empathy and compassion rather than a steel grip is essential to avoid tense work environments
Of course, this doesn't mean rules aren't enforced or that performance doesn't matter. It just means that the best remote leaders lead with humanity and allow team members to express themselves and feel heard so that stress doesn't accumulate and turn into burnout or other health issues.
What happens when the remote leader everyone turns to for guidance and support shows signs of stress or loses emotional control? It inevitably trickles down. If stress becomes a part of the culture, your company will drive away top talent. Remote leadership requires a great deal of composure, even when there are valid reasons to stress. The more connected you are to your work, the more likely you will experience frustrating moments when things aren't going as planned. Serving as a leader requires you to maintain a higher level of emotional control.
Good leaders know they need to give themselves time to process emotions and that, sometimes, taking a break for a bit of self-care gives them the time they need to come up with creative solutions or regain composure.
4. Organized and consistent
Remote leadership often requires you to juggle more responsibilities. The right technology will make it a lot easier by keeping communication, performance metrics and other critical data in one convenient place. However, keeping track of a remote team without direct contact is still challenging. You may spend a lot more of your time evaluating productivity metrics, responding to chat threads and messages and scheduling routine check-ins and feedback sessions.
If you know you're not the most organized and are prone to showing up to meetings unprepared from time to time, now is the time to improve those areas. You want to show up as prepared as possible for every possible scenario, including technical difficulties with remote working technology. Your organization and consistency will set the tone for the entire remote team.
5. Confident decision maker
Finally, remote leaders must have confidence in their ability to make the right decisions even when there isn't much time to collaborate. While you may have once called a last-minute meeting to get feedback and ideas from your team, getting every virtual team member to stop what they're doing and jump into a video meeting isn't usually practical.
This doesn't mean you stop relying on feedback from your team. Instead, you just need to become more self-assured in your ability to make decisions when the remote work environment doesn't allow adequate time for the support you might otherwise receive in an office setting.
3 tips for becoming a better remote leader
So, how can you improve your remote leadership skills?
1. Make time to engage with remote employees
They work out of the office, but they're still vital to your business. In fact, research has shown that employees are more likely to stay with a company long-term if their engagement and sense of connection with the business are strong. That's why talented leaders take action to engage employees regardless of where they work. Some ways to drive and increase employee engagement include:
- 1:1 meetings– Keep your proverbial office door open, and sit down with workers for informal check-ins. Ask how they're doing and try to pinpoint and solve any potential problems they're experiencing on the job.
- Ask for feedback – Provide an easy, safe way for employees to provide feedback or ask questions about the workplace. You can set up a simple email address, use chatbots, do regular surveys or more to ensure your remote workers feel heard.
- Incorporate team building – Use remote team-building strategies to connect your virtual and global talent to the in-office staff. Fun games and competitions can work in some businesses, while others do well with virtual get-togethers and office parties.
2. Keep virtual meetings under control
Have you ever been in a meeting that rambled on without much structure or oversight? Those meetings can easily continue well past the scheduled end time and interfere with worker productivity. Meeting fatigue is real, and the best leaders know how to prevent it. Here's how:
- Make sure every meeting has a clear and essential point. You don't want to hold remote working meetings just because it's the traditional approach to business. If there isn't a purpose, you don't need to consume the time of your virtual and global talent.
- Keep your meetings on track for the intended purpose or focal point. If another topic arises, that needs attention, address it individually with members of your remote team or schedule a new meeting at a convenient time. Meetings that sidetrack can quickly become confusing, and you will either run over time or neglect some of the original intentions behind the meeting.
- Buffer meetings by scheduling an end time slightly ahead of the actual schedule. For instance, schedule a 20-minute meeting and plan for it to last up to 30 minutes. That gives time for slight off-track moments, unexpected questions, or the occasional technical blip.
3. Create an environment of recognition
Rewarding and recognizing employees' hard work has always been important. In an office setting, it's easy to acknowledge good work in real-time. However, in a remote environment those opportunities won't present themselves organically.
Instead, you must find time to acknowledge your workers' efforts and achievements. Whether it's a quick instant message or a formal rewards program, one of the best ways to make your employees feel valued and engaged is to take time to recognize their hard work.
You focus on leadership, and we'll help with the rest
The world of remote work requires gifted remote leaders. Without inspired leadership, companies can expect higher employee turnover, confusion, disconnection and lackluster results. Taking the time to invest in improving your leadership skills is one of the best ways leaders can set themselves and their companies up for success.
As a remote leader, you already have a lot on your plate. So let us take over the logistics of hiring, paying and equipping your remote team. At Outstaffer.com, we help companies hire, pay and equip employees from around the world in just a few clicks – no entity required.
As your Employer of Record, we'll handle the liability, HR, taxes and support for your international talent, so you can focus on what matters most. Plus, with our Managed Devices, Attendance Tracking and Workforce Monitoring, we give you and your employees the tools they need to overcome obstacles and thrive. Contact us today to learn more.